On the Medicinal Value of Some Bucket List Items

The secret of being a bore… is to tell everything.
Voltaire

And yet, there I go. This is my blog, which no one reads, so I can go bonkers.

During a short hiatus, we (this is not a royal “We”, this “we” is actually we—my wife and I; I am not allowed to meet alone with the people who gave the Hippocratic Oath, for it is evident to everyone—but me—that I am chronically unable to understand them correctly) met with the team, treating me—A.K.A., The Mandarin Factory—several times.

At the first of these meetings (the negotiations with the pharmaceutical company that develops the immunotherapeutic drug my doctor decided to try on me since my current chemo cocktail was doing a much better job on the host than my Cancer Al tenant/pet, were at that time not yet complete) my doctor looked at the results of my blood test and became noticeably confused.

“Have you had a blood transfusion?” he asked, “I do not recall ordering one for you…”

“Nope.”

He checked my file. I had not had a blood transfusion.

“But your numbers are within or even better than normal, how is this possible?”

I had no choice but to confess.

Continue reading “On the Medicinal Value of Some Bucket List Items”

On the Scale from Zero to Ten

I stumbled upon this picture on Unsplash and simply could not resist posting it. This is how Castle Stormhold should look from the shore, assuming the architecture of the castle itself is adjusted to fit my description and all the clouds are removed from the sky (it has been a drought there, so the air is extremely arid). Small details aside, the feel is, nevertheless, perfect.

Back to the title of this post, however (and trying to stay on-topic).

I could never figure out how to effectively challenge the cretinism of the question “please, rate your pain on a scale from zero to ten“.

Continue reading “On the Scale from Zero to Ten”

On The Writing Process (if what I do can be called that)

Well, it is writing, of course, even if the procedural aspect of it is reduced to poking the keys on the iPhone’s keyboard (wrong ones more often than not, recently) with numb fingers (or picking more or less right keys with a stylus—while struggling to keep it from slipping out of my numb grip).

And yet the velocity of soiling the virtual paper with the magical symbols is not as important as deciding which they are and what they say. Continue reading “On The Writing Process (if what I do can be called that)”

The Rumors of My Resurrection Were Slightly Exaggerated

Last Monday’s upper endoscopy showed that my tumor is NOT gone, as I was led to believe by my doctor earlier.

Now, another six sessions of chemo later—although it has decreased in size (by about 30% in the esophagus and 50% in the stomach area)—it is still pretty much there. Small wonder I still cannot swallow without chewing everything but drinks to mash.

Continue reading “The Rumors of My Resurrection Were Slightly Exaggerated”

On Suspension of Tension

Whimsically subtitled

Not Everything that Rhymes is Stupid (or at Least I Hope Not)

or, better yet

Other Poisonous Things that are Pumped into My System, Other than the Ones Depicted Above

Those poisonous things are, of course the ever-buoyant (a fancy way of saying never-sinking) doubts that I am doing everything I can to progress the story forward in the most naturally consumable way—and that means that I need to give the reader a break and stop escalating the tension for at least a few hours of the story’s timeline.

Even if that means restraining myself from killing or hurting people for a time.

Continue reading “On Suspension of Tension”

Random Things to Think about while Waterboarding another Cockroach in the Kitchen Sink

There are a few (the order is random as well). Some, are more entertaining than others:

  • Why does Hillary dress like a cartoon character? Queen Elizabeth II does, too, but she is a queen, she is allowed. She is basically a fictional character anyway.
  • There should be a limit to the number of my own funeral parties that I have to host per week. It gets depressing after a few. Same goes for the cards. My fault, though. Should have kept my mouth shut.
  • I finally have my dream metabolism—no matter what and how much I eat, I lose a pound a day.
  • Today’s episode is brought to you by the letter C and the number 4. As in 4% survival chance (that number had been recently optimistically upgraded to 30—if I make it to the test trials—but at least I have an appointment scheduled for January next year! This is the first doctor’s appointment I am excited about).
  • If you were miserable yesterday, but today you look back at that day with a warm and fuzzy feeling, what exactly does it say about your state of mind?
  • And finally: how come that after working most of my life (with some unfortunate and not at all enjoyed unemployment gaps) I cannot afford to simply stop working and concentrate on my treatment? Although I feel quite ancient, I am apparently too young to retire with a less than ridiculous income, nor can I can expect Social Security Disability Benefits to cover me (I have started the Social Security application and see absolutely no light at the end of the mine shaft)—once I do that, my medical insurance will be over, and I will not be able to afford one on my own, while also clearly not being eligible for Medicaid or Medicare, because my wife makes too much money. Nobody cares that “too much money” is still not enough to pay for my insurance, our current apartment, food—human, cat and dog—and other necessities (like cigarettes and red wine). The system is effectively sentencing me to a painful and not-so-quick death, unless I keep on rowing. Well, I guess, it is what it is going to be.

On that note, back to the Ward (the scene split again, damn it, could not keep going without losing momentum), need to steer my main characters to the second inciting moment. Almost done with Part II!

Sighting time. Here, dragon-dragon-dragon…

A Status Update

Just saw the doc.

I was sooo hoping to go under the cleaver like, tomorrow, but apparently the hexed thing spread too wide (when did it find time?), and they have to start nuking me as soon as possible in an attempt to slow it down (I hope I will look half as handsome as the cat above, poor hairless creature).

Evidently, cutting me open would delay the aforementioned nuking and thus would be counterproductive to the whole process, unless we go for the whole-body transplant (my suggestion) which is, to put it lightly, not really a real option (doctors’s answer).

Luckily (if the word is even remotely applicable) I happened to have some magical marker* in my blood, which would allow them to nuke me 2.75 times harder and in a 2.145 times more efficient and a 1.0989 times more promising way. The very thought of that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. In the areas where it does not hurt yet.

Or perhaps not the thought, but the three happy hour cocktails, plate of wings and a fried ice cream at v{iv} Thai restaurant half a block away from the NYU Pearlmutter Cancer Center.

Highly recommended.

The cocktails are strong and the food is out of this world. Or on the way there. :-/

An awkward segue to the main purpose of this journal— let us talk about the deadline.

I have still not been given one (they have to nuke me first and keep doing that for a while to see the results), so I think I could continue going at the pace I was going so far, but just in case I might be facing a time limit in the unexpectedly near future, I should explore various avenues to take.

Finishing the First Draft by November and embark on a NaNoWriMo** experience to write the Prologue, two Interludes and Epilogue as a stand-alone piece, called The White World***, which could easily qualify for a novel length-wise, is hardly feasible.

So, I guess it is Christmas for the First Draft, and The White World interjections right after…

Decisions, distractions, decisions…
______

* I promise to learn the proper terminology soon. I do not think I have a choice.

** National Novel Writing Month. In November, when NBC anchors fight (ironically) cancer by not shaving. I will try that, but the imminent chemotherapy might make some adjustment to the plan.

*** Maybe, go for repetition instead of an alliteration—White Desert, White Sky, White Death? Sexy, no? :-/ Hm…

On Robots

This is to be sent to all my new subscribers with computer-generated usernames:

Dear Subscriber!

Hello and welcome to The Tally of Words!

I am genuinely thrilled to have you aboard and along for my little journey.
Before we proceed—one humble request:
Please, log into your account and update your profile with your first and last name (whether real or made-up), thus ensuring that you are not a robot (if you are not). While I do appreciate the avid interest my work has recently evoked within the Artificial Intelligence community, and do not wish to discriminate my AI readers, knowing the human-to-robot ratio of my fans would aid me tremendously in finding a writing voice for my audience.
Thank You!
Lew.

On Today

As much as I am reluctant to turn this journal into something it was never intended to be, I have to admit that the reality does somewhat affect my otherwise happy world of fantasy, or—as my wife disaffectionately calls it—Laloland. This morning in Laloland was a tad hectic—which would not be unusual after sleeping over the alarm clock after yesterday’s prolonged alcohol-soaked hearty discussion of how to handle my situation—and yet a tad different, because there was a distinct physical adjustment to the routine.
My breakfast—as simple as it was, just a piece of lean baked pork—decided not to stay in. Jumped out literally while I was still chewing. Bon Appetite.

As much as I enjoy logging less food into my calorie-tracking app, deleting the whole entry seems to be a tad overkill.

Anyway, back to my regular stream of uncounsiounceness: half-way through the pivotal chapter of the book—the last chapter of Part II, The Things That Matter.

There shall be more of those accidents now, I gather. It is only a little over a week since I was diagnosed with cancer.

The trick is not to loose the momentum.